As spring slowly buzzes and clicks and grinds into motion, I am reminded of how I looked forward to these times when on a pagan path. Puttering with 'witchy' things, creating, celebrating, crafting... felt in tune with nature. At the same time however, I felt a disconnect from Spirit. It felt more about the rituals, the tools, and 'being an individual'. Oddly. For me, the usual God and Goddess bit didn't work for me. I wasn't moved by Pagan lore . Church bells though - oh boy, those could stir my soul. I felt myself gravitate away from the Pagan Path and drawn toward the Church.
If I feel down and depressed, Psalms can calm me much as the same way the motion in the trees can when the wind dances in the branches. Using the tools of contemplative prayer, writings by Thomas Merton or Cynthia Bourgeault can pull me out of darkness and back to my inner light. And, of course, the Lore.
Stories told to explain the nature and circumstance of mankind. Much like the stories of prior cultures, but with a story line that begins to push for justice and radical actions. The stories of Jesus teaching a 'New Way'. One of compassion, and breaking rules and tearing down walls.
This stuff is important to me.
I know Christianity is tainted by a select few loudmouthed, bigoted, hate-spewing fools. But reading the Anglican Journal, seeing what the different diocese across Canada are doing, or following some great Progressive and Liberal Christian individuals and organizations on Twitter, or finding stories and blogs of those who follow in those radical footsteps of the person of Jesus that Christians are supposed to imitate and one can see a much better full picture. It ain't all ugly.
I used to think that Paganism and Wicca etc were the only 'earth based traditions' one could embark on to truly be enveloped in Nature.
Well certainly Paganism and Wicca allow one to be their own Priest/Priestess and can allow one to form their own path, forge their own way, dance under the moon etc... but really Christianity allows the same.
Jesus didn't say we have to go to a church. (though this can be a great way to receive and give community support). Jesus does not teach that the earth is evil. Vile. Actually he even says that if you split would You'll find Him there. He says the Kingdom is 'here' we just don't see it.
God is not a man in the sky for me with a lightening bolt. That would be Zeus.
God to me is the origin of Me.
Mother and Father. Creator.
Much like the Tree of Life in Kabbalah , in which the sephiroth on the tree of life are aspects of God, all containing essence of God... Panentheistic. God is in all, but is also greater than all.
This earth, or physical reality is the great mother, she is the vessel of God. Receiving all , like Malkuth of the Tree of Life.
She manifests the unmanifested. Like the story of Mary, bearing the Christ child in her womb.
Spirit, He is like the wine that fills the chalice. Flowing and motion. Without a vessel, it can not be contained and then shared. Together they are the Perfect Couple. The Holy Grail. Vessel and Liquid. Chalice and Wine.
When I remember this, I realize that although my views and understanding of God aren't accepted by everyone, that it's ok. I've had my own personal experiences that instilled in my heart images that reflect my words above.
For Pagans I'm too Christian, and for most Christians I'm too Pagan. All I know is that the teachings of Jesus do not contradict my beliefs. Maybe I am more of a Jesuan than a Christian... or perhaps an Angli-Pagan. :)
Either way, I remind myself that I am just as much welcome to honour these changing seasons and the Divine Manifest in the world around us as anyone else. Some Quotes:
“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quiet, alone with the heavens, nature and God. ”Anne Frank (1929-1945)
“And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, Sermons in stones, and good in everything.” William Shakespeare
“What I know of the divine sciences and Holy Scriptures, I learned in woods and fields. I have no other masters than the beeches and the oaks.” Saint Bernard of Clairvaux
“I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we only will tune in.” George Washington Carver
“Birth, life, and death -- each took place on the hidden side of a leaf.” Toni Morrison
Being a follower of the teachings of Jesus is about using his teachings as a way to be closer to God. To be closer to our true Self. Our Origin and Home. The rest of it is all the stuff other people wrote about their understanding of his teachings.
The neat thing is, it isn't hard to find other like minded Christians. Christians that don't quite fit easily into a square box with a neat label. One of the greatest resources I have found has been the informative and resource filled site of Progressive Christianity. (this isn't a denomination. There are Anglican Progressive Christians, Lutherans, individuals, etc. It is simply a mindset or theological way of understanding Christianity )
As for books? Marcus Borg and his Meeting Jesus again for the First Time , Mitch Albom's Have a Little Faith two books that are gentle, smart and thought provoking when examining one's (often) strained relationship with Christianity.
All over now, are groups, organizations and churches that are challenging the stereotypical Hellfire and Brimstone type of Christianity that seems to make top story wherever we look. Just have to open our eyes to see.